The former rally driving champion Colin McRae was killed and his five year-old son feared dead in a helicopter crash yesterday afternoon. The aircraft came down in Jerviswood, Lanarkshire, half a mile from the family's home and burst into flames just after 4pm.
Jean-Eric Freudiger, McRae's agent, said the 39-year-old driver had been piloting the helicopter himself. Also on board were believed to be his son Johnny, another adult and another child. Police said there were no survivors.
McRae's wife Alison and their daughter Hollie, 9, were not on board, friends said.
McRae became Britain's first World Rally champion in 1995. He was one of the country's most successful sportsmen, achieving 25 wins in World Rally events and 42 podium places. He was a flamboyant driver, inspiring one the world's best-selling computer rally games.
The helicopter came down within half a mile of McRae's home, Jervis House, a 16th-century tower house, which has an adjacent helipad. The weather had been overcast, with a light breeze, but visibility was good.
Strathclyde police said the extent of the fire damage was making identification a problem.
McRae's wife, a childhood sweetheart and his former co-driver, was taken back to the house under police escort shortly after 6pm. She looked calm, but neighbours gathering outside the house looked shaken with grief.
McRae's friend the rally journalist Jeremy Hart who flew with the champion several times described him as a "very good, very measured pilot whose natural ability with machinery was second to none". "Colin regularly flew all over the UK and into Europe," said Hart. "He knew the terrain and conditions at Jerviswood very well. It was the place he flew into most regularly.
"As a driver Colin was misunderstood slightly as being reckless but everything you saw with him came from pure raw talent as opposed to being learnt. He was the Michael Schumacher of rally driving.
"It's so ironic that he should die in a helicopter crash when he had competed and had brushed with death so many times as a rally driver."
As gamers, we will remember him for lending his name to the fabulous Colin McRae series. Leaving his name out the US title of the latest entry, DiRT, can now be taken as more than just a hint.
That was my initial thought too. It immediately reminded me of the 80's blues guitarist, Stevie Ray Vaughan who also died in a helicopter crash, having just recently overcomed a very strong alcoholic and cocaine addiction. It was doubly sad because Stevie was at top of his musical form when he died. The bitter irony -- life.
As for Colin McRae, although I am not a rally fan and haven't played a single game named after him, I have always heard the name (and games) treated with utmost respect. I don't know what else to say, except that it's very sad when sportsmen, who, thanks to their excellent physical condition, have years and years before them, die in stupid accidents. Very sad and not even a bit fair.
And, of course, it's never good when little kids die. I can't imagine what the family feels right now. And I sincerely hope than neither me nor anybody here will ever have to.
US media seems to be indifferent beyond the gaming sites. No mention front page of Sports Illustrated or ESPN yesterday.
I guess NASCAR is dominant in the US, and rally racing is very different.
Aviation accidents are spookily common in motorsport - Steve Hislop (motorcycle racer, also Scottish), Graham Hill (twice F1 world champion) and Alan Kulwicki (NASCAR champion) have all died in the same way. With Richard Burns having died of a brain tumour 2 years ago, British rallying seems jinxed. RIP Colin.
(Edited by Jeremy Johnson (638), Sep 16, 2007)Re: Colin McRae dies
Jeremy Johnson (638), Sep 16, 2007
I've heard a bit about the McRae crash from several websites I regularly visit. Since this is the only place where I have an account to post in a forum/BBS, I just have to say that this is very sad news. I've never really got into racing in any form in terms of entertainment, but I have heard of McRae.
When one is known outside the circle they normally operate in due to their exceptional skill, that is testimony to that person having a degree of proficiency that is nearly unequaled in their field. So even though I do not watch F-1, NASCAR or the other forms of racing (such as boat racing), I do know for a fact that a sporting legend has passed on today.
And the information regarding the child is new to me. That is a shame.
I feel bad because I only heard of him through the games. My sympathy to his family. :(
It was only last year racing champion Peter Brock died. There was a huge thing in Australia about it, particularly since Steve Irwin had died just four days earlier. A condolences page has been set up on his web site and there are several hundred messages there.
Me being a part of racing...and being around it...I could tell you...that racing is a dangerous sport...all kinds....but this didnt happen in a racecar...and this is sad to hear this...Colin McRae was awesome...and a true legend to the sport...just 2 or 3 weeks ago...we lost 3 drivers in 2 weeks...we lost John Blewett III, a motocross racer, and 410 sprint car driver Billy Kimmel at Williams Grove....I just hope his family knows that all of his fans are thinking of them...and he will be missed....
The past 5 years in racing...we have lost a lot of drivers, officials, series owners...and it is so sad....
RIP. The Colin McRae series truly brought rally game-playing, and most interest in the sport itself, to the US. I'll have to pick up DiRT when my interest in CMR'05 finally fades.